Has the GOLDEN AGE of ACTION Movies gone?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Matthew Prince, Aug 4, 2004.

  1. Matthew Prince

    Matthew Prince Stunt Coordinator

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    I like the reaction I'm getting to various threads around here, so I'd thought I'd start another one!

    DOES ANYONE AGREE WITH ME THAT THE GOLDEN AGE OF ACTION MOVIES IS GONE?

    Obviously, I'm not suggesting a return back to the early '80s days of misogynistic, OTT and right wing Action/Adventure movies like Rambo, Rocky, the Death Wish movies, Chuck Norris movies and John Milius productions.

    But I what about the Die Hards, Lethal Weapons, Midnight Runs, Last Boy Scouts, Freejacks, The Rocks and True Lies? Those films were and still are so enjoyable (well, allowing for various personal tastes)!

    Just out of curiosity, can anyone tell me what projects (directing-wise) are Richard Donner, Tony Scott, Simon West, John Woo, Steven Norrington, James Cameron (sorry [​IMG]), Ridley Scott and maybe... Joel Silver & Michael Bay are working on?

    It seems they're silent at the moment or maybe I'm out of the loop! But in the case of John Woo, somebody tell me what the hell is going on? It's been just over a decade since he came to Hollywood and he's only put out ONE decent movie! (You all know what it is AND that it deserves a Special Edition DVD).

    I'm sure that John Woo left Hong Kong because he believed he'd acheived all he could there and that America would offer him bigger budgets, better special effects, recognised Stars and improved Marketing & Distribution.

    But in effect, all I've seen is that they've neutered him! Sure, the Studios don't want him churning our R Rated, two-gun, multiple body count thrillers ALL the time. They want to see what else he can do, but offering him staid and poor scripts like Broken Arrow and Paycheck is plain insulting, to him and his fans!

    When he was offered Face/Off I'm sure his eyes lit up, because it was a treatment that suited his style. It offered themes of dual personalities, one partner versus/needs the other, issues of trust and loyalty, confusion and epic set pieces. Therefore it was his best film.

    I admired Windtalkers, if for the sentiment but not for the execution, and it was a personal project that he wanted to get made. But it's sad that he last directed Paycheck as it was one of the most average thrillers that I've seen. ANY director could have taken that on and there was NOTHING in the script that allow John to showcase his skills. I can only guess that he took on the movie in order to play the Hollywood 'system' - whereby you direct standard movies, in order to boost your profile and prove yourself to the bigwigs so you can get you own projects made.

    You would think that if Hollywood is the 'land' of the most creative, writing and producing talent, how come we rarely see it? It makes me wonder if that long held catchphrase if true: "Hollywood! The famous town Where Nobody Knows Anything!"

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    I don't know their current projects but every single one of them (except Simon West) has had a new film in theaters in the past year so I wouldn't worry about them staying busy.
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I'll bet the British handover had more to do with it.

    M.
     
  4. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    Woo also made HARD TARGET with Claude Van Damme. I would love to see his director's cut because it supposedly was excellent.

    Woo wants to do musicals. I think he actually has one lined up about a gangster. He also had another project with Nicolas Cage and Chow Yun fat that had been mentioned. There could also be a movie based on a video game in the works. I don't remember the details. It different than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing he was tied to.

    I actually liked Windtalkers. I don't think he was able to do everything he wanted with the movie because of the studio. It reminded me of the old war movies.

    I am going to catch THE KILLER on Friday in NYC and I can't wait.

    I don't know if Woo will have a Hollywood movie that will be truly great. Part of the reason is that the actors that are in these movies are pretty powerful ones and probably get a big say in how the finished product looks. Even Van Damme did that to him on Hard Target.

    Matt
     
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I thought the golden age of action movies was the 60's. The original James Bond films, The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, Spartacus, Bullitt, The Train, Where Eagles Dare, etc.

    My point being that there have been great action films for a long time (Adventures of Robin Hood anyone?) and still are (Lord of the Rings?). I don't think there is such a thing as the golden age (unless you make it a very long age), and I could name numerous great action flicks for any decade going back to at least the 40s.
     
  6. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    There is no director working today that knows how to direct action properly. No one. The only directors left that can do it competently are left over from the 70's and 80's: James Cameron (the best, IMO), Steven Spielberg (he shines at directing ANYTHING, including action, when he needs to), and to a much lesser extent, John McTiernan (mostly for his work on Die Hard 1, which is a classic action film in every sense of the word).

    I don't consider John Milius an action director per se, but he did direct the original Conan, which is a very well made film considering the low budget.

    John Woo is very interesting because he simply hasn't been given any decent material to work with since he set foot on American soil, and we still haven't seen what he's truly capable of (maybe we never will as long as he's working in Hollywood). His Hong Kong films are amazing though, and were the source of inspiration for films like "Die Hard" in the late 80's.

    And truly, that's about it. The rest of the guys you mentioned I consider hacks at best. Michael Bay? Simon West? A trained monkey could do better than those guys.

    -Dennis

    P.S. I just noticed you mentioned "Freejack"...ok I get it now, this is a joke, right? [​IMG]
     
  7. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    I love Freejack!! "The Last Boy Scouts" was the shit to shit on that list [​IMG]
     
  8. Matthew Prince

    Matthew Prince Stunt Coordinator

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    As long as people are talking it's all good!

    I chucked in Freejack and Last Boy Scout because they were no brainers. You could just leave your brain outside the movie theater and have a blast! Come on guys, lighten up! I'm sure we ALL have action/adventure movies that we secretly think were great...

    John Milius wasn't mentioned in terms of a Director, it was the fact that he produced a lot of right-wing and OTT action movies (Red Dawn went too far and was ludicrous to anyone living outside of America at the time.)
     
  9. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    check IMDB.com
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I’m just curious, but would not one include Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Ang Lee and the Wachowski Brothers, as active directors who can direct action? Surely not all of them fall into the hack category.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    And Quentin Tarantino.
     
  12. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

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    If you ask me, this is the golden age of action at the movies. Some of the most exhilirating action sequences I've ever seen are from movies that have come out in the past few years. The Pod Race and Duel of the Fates from The Phantom Menace, the various escape sequences from Minority Report, the car chase from The Bourne Supremacy, the Battle of the Pelennor Fields from The Return of the King, the subway scene from Spider-Man 2... I can go on and on. Sure, there have been a lot of dissapointing action movies recently, but that has happened in every period in movie history.
     
  13. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    Some people would say that some of those latter movies you listed *are* "misogynistic, OTT and right wing" (I remember True Lies and the Lethal Weapon series in particular got pretty heavily criticized on that angle) [​IMG]

    I think action movies are doing alright these days. If there's a flaw in the way Hollywood is producing the movies, it's a reliance on babyfaced 20-something actors as the leads. It's tough to be believably hard-boiled when you don't have any craggy lines on your face [​IMG]
     
  14. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Trying to carefully avoid forum boundaries here but I think you'd be pretty hard pressed to characterize the people involved in Lethal Weapon as being right wing.
     
  15. Julian Lalor

    Julian Lalor Supporting Actor

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    Aside from Face/Off, Woo's US output is simply terrible. I can only imagine the atrocity of a Woo musical. I bet it'll be an adaptation of Prince's song "When Doves Cry".
     
  16. Dennis Pagoulatos

    Dennis Pagoulatos Supporting Actor

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    Lew: You make a good point. The Wachowski's are the closest thing to a good action director that we have working today. I meant that I thought the rest of the people on the list in the first post were hacks, not everybody working today. Tarantino is not what I would call an "action" director...and I was not very impressed with the editing or direction of the action in the large scale "House of Blue Leaves" battle at the end of KB 1. For sheer lunacy it was fun, but in terms of visceral action, that type of fight has been done much better in countless kung fu flicks before it. The smaller battles, like the blonde on blonde showdown in KB 2, now that was COOL.

    And no...I didn't think that Peter Jackson's battle scenes were directed and edited very well. The images were spectacular, but the quick cutting, too much shaky cam, too many close-ups, etc., make the battles seem as if they're trying to cover up a lack of good fight choreography. The wide CG shots, those were something to behold obviously, but as cohesive set pieces, had Cameron been doing the directing and editing, we'd be wetting our pants during most of those battle scenes. (Pardon me if some of us wet our pants already despite my perceived flaws.) [​IMG]

    -Dennis
     
  17. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    Of course the golden age of action movies is ovr. It ended in the late 70s probably. We're in whatever age comes after silver now.
     
  18. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "Have you ever listened to Mel Gibson talk politics? Enough said."

    I missed the parts in the Lethal Weapon movies where the character Martin Riggs - played by Mel Gibson - talks right-wing politics.

    And no...I didn't think that Peter Jackson's battle scenes were directed and edited very well. The images were spectacular, but the quick cutting, too much shaky cam, too many close-ups, etc., make the battles seem as if they're trying to cover up a lack of good fight choreography.

    I wouldn't go as far as you, Lew, re: the LOTR battles -- however, for my birthday I received a truckload of DVDs, and one of which was Braveheart, which I hadn't seen in about five years. I popped it in and skipped ahead to the battle of Sterling, and was truly surprised at how exceptional a piece of filmmaking it really was. My memories seemed to have been clouded more by the shots of viscera, and it was a joy to "re-discover". Aside from the last battle in Saving Private Ryan and the Omaha Beach landing in the same film, Braveheart's battle of Sterling would get my nod for "best action sequence" of the 90's, and it is easily (for me) the best "swords, shields and horses" battle ever filmed.
     
  19. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

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    I think the typical action genre as it was defined and popularized in the 1980s/early 1990s (Rambo, Commando, Tango & Cash, Red Heat, Robocop, Leathal Weapon, Bloodsport, Cobra, Die Hard) is definitely on the decline.

    The Rock has done some good straight forward action films lately and they haven't really done huge box office.

    With the advent and acceleration of CGI, the new "spectacle epic" blockbuster is now en vogue. Continuing comic book stories and big-time high concept trilogy/franchises seem to be the rage. We're definitely living in the golden age of the CGI fantasy/geek spectacle. Star Wars prequels, Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Matrix trilogy, the Harry Potter series, the X-Men series, the Spider-Man series, etc. Call it the ultimate revenge of the nerds for all the macho-80s action movies.

    I have no doubt if they did something like "Total Recall" were done today, they'd cast someone more like Keanu Reeves or Jude Law than someone like Ahnuld.

    The video game franchise that John Woo's production company picked up was Metroid. It's actually a pretty cerebral video game heavily inspired by the original Alien film.
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I only mentioned that Peter Jackson had shot some action and was not a hack (along with such as Ang Lee). As far as the various battle scenes in LOTR goes, I am not so critical as Dennis. While there some of those scenes may rightly be criticized, there is also much to praise in many of them, especially a couple of the smaller set pieces are really quite fine.

    Interesting points on Braveheart, which I too just watched again for the first time in several years. I’m actually quite conflicted on the movie as a whole, but this time through I was more impressed with some of the technical achievements than ever before. I certainly think that the scene you mention is just an outstanding example of action filmmaking.
     

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